SAP implementations can affect a business in many ways and can even offer cross-functional benefits. These cross-functional benefits can use time and resources effectively and efficiently to save time and money for a company. However, more complex projects may not be completed without proper preparation or implementation due to varying time and budget constraints. According to research provided by Gartner at the beginning of 2015, as many as 41% of all SAP implementations were late according to their original schedule, 31% were over budget, and 21% didn’t deliver all the business benefits stated in the business case. In light of these issues that may arise, it is helpful to understand the best practices for allocating successful SAP solutions. Here, you will find valuable tips and tricks correlating to the different stages of an SAP project and its progression. 

1. Preparation Phase:

The preparation phase is an important phase of a project. This phase is there to set the foundation for a successful project and to make sure you use the time carefully. It often is the make or break phase regarding project implementation. SAP projects can be challenging to change once into the thick of it, so the project needs to be planned accurately and needs to get started quickly. However, it is even more important to get the most basics settled right from the beginning. Below are, helpful practices defined for this phase. 

Set project objectives and goals

A clearly defined “end game” is essential to an SAP project being successful. The result of a project should be based on the different functions of the business. Every team member should be informed about the project, any upcoming changes, benefits, and any questions they (or clients) may have should be addressed. 

Create an implementation team

The team chosen to execute the SAP project should consist of qualified people who are trusted by the company they work for, IT providers, and the client they are representing. Project managers or decision-makers must be on board with this implementation team, or else mandating tasks and signing off on various documents may take up even more time. Business experts who work for or represent the client are also valuable for ensuring that the project is on track, on-brand, operational issues are addressed, and any risk is managed. 

Get approval for redesigning the business process

Any SAP project has a lot to do with IT, and the impact and involvement of IT can be seen in obvious and subtle ways in which an organization operates. Internal and external business processes undergo transformations guided by these SAP projects. Heads of Departments (HoD) should plan according to these transformations and strategize to reshape the “new” business model. 

Set a time frame and a budget

At the very beginning of a project, a company should set a time frame and a budget. This should be done to manage risks effectively, accommodate any unforeseen delays, and account for and buffer any stipulated costs. 

2. Kick-Off: 

Generate a common understanding

With the preparation phase out of the way, it is crucial to ensure those project sponsors, HoDs, and internal, and eventually, external SAP consultants are on the same page. Templates, reports, and other supplementary documents should be sent out to communicate effectively, answer questions, and keep team members informed of items such as methodology, planning and execution, and the chosen SAP implementation strategy. 

Prevent problems instead of dealing with them later

The Project Management Office (PMO) should respond efficiently to address any issues that may occur during the rollout of an SAP project; however, the priority should be to prevent them from the beginning. During the implementation phase, it is essential to organize and utilize any mechanisms that could offset any unforeseen issues. An example of this may be identifying and categorizing possible risks and outlining prevention plans for them.

Define what your client needs from you 

International SAP projects are almost impossible to implement alone; companies rely on top quality managed service teams located in the respective countries. Local IT providers are essential in working with clients to clarify and manage expectations and offer support. 

Set relevant success criteria

Every client or customer sets its expectations and project objectives which are then shared across all involved parties. The qualities criteria should be adaptable and relevant to the company and its individual short-term or long-term goals. A general practice or suggestion is to use the SMART criteria when setting the success criterion; SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

3. Implementation Phase

It is okay to use pre-configured solutions

Your implementation project does not need to start from scratch. Many business processes are well-established industry-standard processes where you don’t need to design the strategies. Instead, they should accept and learn about the best practice processes already provided from pre-configured solutions. Using some of these preconfigured solutions saves time for more personalization or designs other processes to make even more of a difference. 

Communication is key

It is vital to have a team with communication skills as this will allow any obscure situations to be resolved quickly and effectively.  It is also essential to learn about and understand the different cultural and business-related practices and differences in other countries. By understanding these practices and differences, misunderstandings are reduced, and relationships are strengthened. 

Coordinate with a network of IT providers

Typically, costs associated with international projects were high because of the coordination with many IT providers. Now, clients can engage with one company that has a global network of connections and affiliates. This once stressful task is now diminished to one responsible party.

4. Go Live Phase

Actively promote change

Communication of the critical message is the key to a Go-live phase project’s success. Stakeholders, employees, clients, etc., must be informed and involved in the process. The main priority should be to address the end-users who adapt to this change and the ones whose reaction could make or break the entire project outcome. 

Organize targeted training

Training makes a huge difference when it comes to effectively shifting old practices to new ones. Knowing how to use the newly integrated system is crucial to a company’s success. Without proper training or resources, employees risk rejecting the latest practices and causing severe drawbacks. 

Decide who will support the users

The new system needs time to work at a 100% error-free rate. Once the system is integrated, the users are likely to require the assistance of SAP experts, who can support them if there is an issue.

Analyze the main lessons learned

Any new experience or change is full of new lessons, and everyone involved in it should take away something positive. By doing so, business practices will be continuously improved. 

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